For many the term revelation brings up images of profound discoveries of hidden secrets. This is partially a result in Christian circles of an automatic connection to the last book of the Bible known as the “The Book of Revelation”. While such a description is indeed a revelation, not all revelation fits that description. The term revelation used in theological circles has a simple meaning. Revelation is the act of God making himself, truths and information otherwise unavailable known. When the fact that the very nature of God can not be contained is combined with His desire to have a relationship with human kind, it must be made known. (John 3:16, II Peter 1:4) Revelation must occur. Now having defined revelation we will see that it can be subdivided into two categories.
1) General Revelation –
The first category is General (or Natural) revelation. General revelation is simply the act of God revealing himself by means of His creation. God reveals himself through nature. (Psalm 19:1-6, Romans 1:19-23) When we see the vastness of the night sky or the majesty of the mountains, when hear the power of the rolling thunder or the roaring rapids, when we feel the gentle breeze or the warmth of the sun we experience God. He and his character are revealed to us.
In addition, God reveals himself through people’s own consciousness (Romans 2:14-15). The fact that we are self aware, that we can learn and grow, that we have a concept of right and wrong is a testimony to God.
2) Special Revelation –
The second category is Special revelation. Where general revelation was God revealed through natural means, special revelation is the act of God revealing himself through means that are not “natural” or are “special.” These are divine action in history and include, though are not necessarily limited to, Miracles (Exodus 4:3-5, I Kings 18:30-39), Spoken Word (I Samuel 3, Acts 9:4), Visions (Isaiah 6), Angelic Visits (Luke 1:11-20), Dreams (Matthew 1:20), Incarnation of Christ (John 1:1, 14, 18) and Scripture (II Timothy 3:16).
Holy Scriptures –
The Bible is the most available form of special revelation. All 66 books of the Bible are the inspired word of God. What does this mean? Inspired literally means God-breathed (II Timothy 3:16). It refers to the way in which God has communicated his message through those who wrote the scriptures.
So what does it actually mean to be inspired or God Breathed. First, it is not dictation. That is to say that God did not simply say the words and the authors wrote them down word for word. Second, it does not mean that God simply gave the authors a nebulous concept to share as best they could. Rather, inspired means that God spoke the very words (Galatians 3:16) through the writers in their unique personalities and styles of writing (II Peter 1:21). That is to say, the scriptures are the very words of God, and at the same time they are the very words of the authors. As a result of this unique characteristic, the Bible may be understood through study and the illuminating guidance of the Holy Spirit (I Corinthians 2:12 – 13).
Further, as they are the very words of God, the scriptures are inerrant (John 10:34-35) in their original writings. The very fact that they were inspired (breathed) by God makes it impossible for them to contain errors. Having said this, it must be understood that this claim can only be made of the original writings as penned by the authors. (Thought through much study and research the current Bible is trustworthy.) That is to say the very words put on paper by the authors’ hand were the inerrant words of God.
Finally, the scriptures are the proven authority for life (Isaiah 55:11). The Bible itself testifies to this fact as did Jesus Christ. (II Samuel 22:31, John 17:7-8)
God has revealed himself. Though many of us may not experience miracles God speaking directly to us, visions, Angelic Visits and Dreams we can see Him through His Creation and we can know Him though His inspired word.
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